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Hurricane Michael Restoration Press Relsease — Wednesday Morning, October 17, 2018

October 17, 2018

Wiregrass Electric Cooperative began its seventh day of restoration efforts following Hurricane Michael with less than 1,000 members without power.

As of 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the crews began work with 924 members without power. A week ago, Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle and brought historic wind speeds to the Wiregrass.

Michael’s wind brought many trees down, broke approximately 500 power poles and left 18,000 WEC members without power.

In a week, WEC has restored power to 96 percent of the members who were affected, but more work is still to be done.

“We made great progress yesterday, and we have been making great progress every day since the storm hit our area,” said WEC Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro. “Our area has not seen a storm of this magnitude in a long time and maybe ever. We’ve seen 80 to 100 year old trees brought down by the winds from this storm. It was historic.”

WEC released an updated map with estimated outage times for WEC members on Wednesday morning.
The map is broken up into three colors — blue, green and red. The green areas are expected to have power restored by Saturday, Oct. 20, and the red areas are expected to have power restored by Sunday, Oct. 21.

The red area includes Limestone, Cottonwood and Columbia which were some of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Michael.

WEC has enlisted the help of 207 linemen from outside the cooperative to come and assist with restoration efforts. The linemen are from WEC’s sister cooperatives from around the state as well as contract crews and right of way crews. On Tuesday, 30 additional men in right of way crews came to assist WEC with its efforts. WEC also has additional engineers, mechanics and warehouse workers helping with the efforts.

“We had approximately 500 power poles broken from the storm, which is roughly equivalent to 50 miles,” Kimbro said. “That’s the distance between Dothan and Troy. We could never have made the progress we have made without the outside help we have received. Everyone who has helped us has been fantastic, and we are so grateful for everything they have done.”

WEC is also appreciative of all the positive words and prayers they have received from WEC members over the last seven days.

For live outage updates on outages, please visit WEC’s Facebook page.

As of 6 a.m., WEC had the following outage numbers:

Columbia Substation — 270 members (27 percent out)
Slocomb Substation — 5 members (.01 percent out)
Burch Pond Substation — 3 members
Limestone Substation — 234 members (8 percent out)
Ashford Substation — 21 members (0.01 percent out)
Cottonwood Substation — 354 members (53 percent out)
Rehobeth Substation — 13 members (.01 percent out)
System Total Outage — 924 (Down from 18,000)

Click here to view a video slideshow of the damage our line crews are having to deal with.

Changes to 2018 Annual Meeting

In light of the massive restoration effort, WEC has decided to make changes to its annual meeting format.

The meeting will still take place on Friday, Oct. 19 but will be a quick abbreviated meeting.

“If members have already voted through our mail in process then they do not have to attend,” says Kimbro. “If members have not voted then they can come register and vote and then they may leave.”

The meeting will be moved from the warehouse location where it is normally held to the community room of the Hartford office.

“The warehouse where we normally hold the meeting will not be in a condition to have the meeting due to our active storm restoration efforts and safety concerns for members and the public,” says Kimbro.

Because WEC is a member owned cooperative the bylaws of the cooperative require that WEC hold an annual meeting.

Registration will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The business portion of the meeting will begin at noon with the agenda laid out in WEC’s bylaws. The business meeting will be brief and will be broadcast live on Facebook Live for members not in attendance.